Sunday, 29 March 2009

Good luck fellas...

So, this IS summer! It officially started today and not wanting to miss a single second (it might finish tomorrow) H and I headed out on our bikes at 6.45 this morning. I was feeling quite tired, probably due to a reasonably tough training week (which included a good twenty mile run on Thursday) and within the first few miles had decided to enjoy the sun rather than flogging my legs. I'm not sure the 104 miles with 10,000+ feet of climbing necessarily fits with the previous statement but a ride time of 6:38 and an average heart rate of 126 left my legs feeling pretty fresh for the two mile run I slotted quickly on the end... we'll see how they feel in the morning ;)

Continuing along the British Summer Time theme I don't want to sound 'bah humbug' but as all around us rejoice at the extra hour of daylight spare a thought for H and I who have suddenly lost an hour... on the plus side the early morning sun will soon return, but within a month or so our 8.30pm bedtime will become a little more challenging with the sun beating down, kids playing in the street and the ice-cream van paying us his nightly visit.

This coming Sunday it's Ironman Australia and the mdot season will start to intensify as events come thick and fast. This brings me nicely to today's photo... our great friend Ian during the run section of the 2006 Lanzarote Ironman and one of the most memorable images from my whole Ironman experience of the last four years. Ozzer will be on the start line on Sunday morning alongside another inspirational friend Russell Cox, both these guys give it everything in training and truly follow an Iron life... HAVE A GREAT RACE BOYS, we'll be cheering down the internet at you both!!!

Also on the racing scene a HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to our friend and fellow Virgin Active Road Runner Debra Brown for breaking two hours at this afternoon's Liverpool Half Marathon... her dedication and work ethic have been amazing over the last five years and her success comes as no surprise... well done DB ;)

Finally, my mum and step dad arrived this afternoon to spend a few days hanging out and sharing some quality time with us and as the tinternet and laptop are pretty much the enemy of quality time I think I'll leave it there :)

See you next week,


p.s. a couple of weeks into my Twittering you can still follow my training every day, HERE.

Resting my brain...

Wouldn't it be great if like meat you could just remove ones brain and pop it on the side, leave it to rest (have a rest yourself) and then pop it back in when said rest was done?!  I say this mainly because my brain is in overdrive, clunking, whirring, spinning, and most annoyingly thinking and thinking and thinking.  Yes, yes, I know that's what it's there for, but sometimes - and not even that often- it would be nice to turn the bloody thing off.  There is no such thing as having a blank mind (unless you sat me in the Mastermind chair-maybe this is my answer!) and so all day every day I have to hear my own thoughts being processed and as much as I need it to continue to do so for me to keep growing and developing and learning as a human, this morning I wished I just had quiet.  So while I was out on my long ride I took some time out.  Normally when I ride long I'm wishing I was back before I've even clipped my foot in for the first pedal stroke out of the street. So instead of racing to get back so I could enjoy the rest of the day I stopped at about 45 miles, got off the bike, found a very quiet spot (the top of a wall over a river) and just sat and stared at the blue sky, the green grass and the silence.  Wonderful and no brain whirring, just me and ... nothing ... 

And then it was back on the bike, back to the brain whirring, over zealous thinking and streams of mindless inner chat (maybe I'm actually schizophrenic!)  I'm guessing that just like your muscles need rest and recovery so does the brain but it's not as easy as that is it when you still have life living in there, but those ten minutes on that wall were all I needed to switch off and maybe it's something I'll do every now and then to give my head a break.

I've had a good week of training.  My legs were smashed after last Saturday's duathlon so early in the week I took it fairly steady with some good swims, a treadmill session and a couple of 2 hr turbos and then on Thursday I did a 20 mile run which saw me suitably tired on Friday and Saturday and then on my 80 mile ride today (should have been 100) I decided that my legs were knackered and as you've just read so was my brain so I ditched the 100 and came home early.

Tom and I have his mum and step dad Ray here to stay until Wednesday and it's always nice to kick back and enjoy their company and their infinite garden wisdom (they're going to help us fix our broken fence.)  We don't know what we'd do without you both :)

And so without further a do, I must go and entertain our lovely house guests and leave you to look at my week in pictures :)  Here's Week Eight, enjoy.

H. x

Saturday, 21 March 2009

First race of the season...done :)

Gone in the blink of an eye! It’s so scary how fast time goes as here I am, yet again, writing the blog from the passenger seat of the car having raced The Ballbuster (a hard duathlon in Surrey.) This is the fifth time I’ve done The Ballbuster so I knew the pain that was in store. It’s an 8 mile (hilly) loop that you run first, ride three times then run again. That second run is such a challenge and in the past few races I’ve been very good at pacing them fairly evenly. That sounds like today I didn’t pace it so well but actually I think I did details to follow.

Going into the race I was a little apprehensive. My tendonitis which plagued me last year and stopped me running for six months has started to rear it’s head again. I think that trying to change my foot strike from heel running to mid-foot has been the culprit. So after a physio session on Wednesday I was told to go back to heel striking to stop irritating it. Shame because I’ve managed to get to a point where I can run faster and feel straighter through my torso by learning how to mid-foot strike. Still, I’d take being able to run slower over not being able to run through injury any day! My running in training therefore hasn’t been going great and I’ve felt slow and sluggish and not really been enjoying my long runs at all finding them a real slog in fact. Weird because I used to not enjoy riding and it seems I’ve started to enjoy that so much more, I guess it’s because I’m seeing the improvements those extra bike miles are making!

So, the gun went at 8am on Saturday morning as the sun was rising warming up the course, making the conditions just perfect for racing. I like to start off very much within myself (mostly to let the tendon warm up.) And that’s exactly what I did. I felt very comfortable (heart rate a little higher than usual – about 168) but I wasn't breathing hard and just enjoyed my work rate, the weather and the fact that after a couple of miles I started to pick my way through the field. Because my running hasn’t been going well all I wanted was to be able to match last year’s runs or come very close. Last year’s first run was 56mins this years run was 56 mins. Onto the bike and really what I wanted was to see an improvement here, are those bike miles making a difference? I felt good and really strong. The drawback of this course for me though is it’s a very technical course with fast off camber decents, narrow roads (with too many cars on them) and those combinations turn me into a right girl ;) The men that were around me were overtaking when we got to a technical part with girly me chasing behind. Catching them wasn’t hard but staying with them through those tight bends was, so I feel I was a little inconsistent in effort. Still I did improve my bike split from last years long 1.28 to this years short 1.26. Not much but in the right direction and given I felt I could have gone harder if I'd been braver round those corners then that's a good enough improvement for me. As I pulled on my trainers in T2 I was feeling good. I’ve always ran well off the bike (not necessarily fast but I don’t find running off the bike a problem.) I felt really strong and was enjoying working hard again and hoping to match my first run. I’d got off the bike feeling fresh, the hill work we’ve been doing and the hard work in Lanza meant today’s hills were like little humps so while I was on that second run I didn’t feel like I’d mashed my legs at all on the bike. Until I reached said little humps (no longer little or a humps) and then I knew my legs were cooked ;) 59 mins (3mins slower than the first run) and I finished in 3hrs 23mins 33 secs.  Having tired legs on that last section is no surprise, however my leg fatigue was more to do with the lack of long run intensity I've been able to do rather than pushing myself too hard in the first run and then on the bike (and being a few kilos heavier than this time last year.)  This I'm pleased about because those things I can work on and carry on the good work in the bike area too.

I’m really pleased. It’s not a pb (I did 3.23 last year) and I’ve run faster in previous races but my aim was to see improvement on the bike and I felt really strong, so that’s great. Like I say I am heavier than I was this time last year and I think this makes quite a difference in terms of running so hopefully by the time I get to Lanza I’ll be at race weight and ready to rock!!

A great day in the office with an average heart rate of 161 so I know I worked hard, and I have the sore legs to prove it☺ oh and I came fifth so £40 better off too ☺ ☺ A huge well done to my husband who pb’d and as always gave his all, and to Pauly P who also pb’d. Well done boys ☺

Time to kick back and enjoy a well earned rest day.  

And as usual here's this weeks pix (Week Seven.) 

H. x

Good times...

I absolutely love racing... It’s felt like an age between my first (Brass Monkey Half Marathon in Jan) and second (today’s Ballbuster duathlon) races of 2009… both have gone well and both have produced pb performances, but most importantly both have reminded me exactly why all that training time is so worthwhile.

Note: The official splits combine T1 with the bike and T2 with the second run whereas the times mentioned here don't include transition and are taken from my watch.

Today was the 5th time H and I had taken on the infamous Box Hill challenge and with plenty of miles in the cycling bank I was looking for a significant return on my training investment. My main goal this morning therefore was to beat last year’s 1:12:53 bike split whilst matching my 2008 run times in order to show a bike improvement and similar run form as 12 months ago. On top of that my ‘magic day’ goals were to break 1:10 for the bike, go under 50 minutes for both runs and therefore break 2:55 overall. I wasn’t too concerned about pbing overall but having gone 2:57 for the last two years would have been disappointed not to break three hours.

So, what happened?

Stood on the start line of the best day of the year I wasn’t really sure what to expect… although I ‘know’ I’m fitter than this time last year I’ve felt heavy legged since getting back from Lanza two weeks ago and at 69 kilos am around half a stone heavier than the same point last year. As usual the the start of the run was manic as people rapidly went about throwing their whole race plan out the window, setting off as if it was a 20 minute 5k race rather than a three hour endurance test. I really don’t understand the mentality of hitting your max heart rate one mile into a 40 mile event, fortunately however I’ve never been one to follow the heard and happily positioned myself in around 50th place over the first half of the run. Soon enough people started to explode and I gradually picked my way through the field holding 6:28 miles over the 7.7 mile hilly lap for a first run split of 49:51. At nine seconds slower than last year with an average heart rate nine beats lower (152 v 161) it was so far so good and with T1 taking 2:06 it was time to test my bike fitness.

With one eye on a 1:10 bike split I had 23:20 in mind for the first of the three laps, starting lap two 23:15 later I’d made up a load of places, was starting to lap the back markers and was feeling great. About five minutes later though my chain decided to pop off the inside of my chainset, attempts to pedal it back on failed and I found myself stood by the side of the road untangling it from my frame. At times like that it’s important to stay calm a) to solve the problem at hand as quickly and effectively as possible and b) so that once you’ve done that you don't hammer off down the road like a lunatic in an attempt to catch up all the lost time in the next 100 metres. About 20 seconds later I was back on two wheels pushing hard but also reminding myself to relax and avoid spikes in my power output which could trip me up during the second run. Five minutes later I found myself stuck behind a car stuck behind a slower rider and not wanting to risk life and limb round Box Hill's twisty, narrow and 'Chelsea Tractor' filled roads I was once again reminding myself to ‘keep calm’ and ‘be patient’. Fearing a serious loss of time it was great to get round the second lap only slightly slower (23:45) and the game was most definitely still on. Although I didn’t want to sacrifice the second run today was most certainly all about the bike and the 'ante' was duly ‘upped’… somewhat frustratingly, ten minutes later I once again found myself in the ‘slow rider blocking wide car’ scenario… still, you can only play the cards you’re dealt and I knew that if I kept focus I’d be there or there abouts. As I hit the dismount line and pressed the lap button on my Garmin a total bike split of 1:10:04 was great to see and with the various hold-ups along the way I was super pleased to only miss my 'best case' split by five seconds.

A slightly pedestrian T2 of 1:28 (20 seconds slower than the last two years) saw me start the second run with 2:03:30 on the clock knowing that a sub-50 minute run would finish off an amazing day. Feeling a bit sluggish I set off with as much focus as possible and running through the drink station 19:55 into the lap was 20 seconds up on the first run and growing more confident with every stride. As the lap went on though I kept seeing my heart rate dip into the 140s and turning into Box Hill for the final time had lost two minutes putting me 1:40 behind lap one, a sub-50 minute second run was now out of the question and a sub-2:55 finish would need a seriously big push. The amazing TriTalk support crew had positioned themselves about half a mile from the top of Box Hill but even with their shouts of encouragement my legs just couldn't find the strength to challenge my heart and a slightly disappointing second run of 51:52 stopped the clock at 2:55:22 and 8th overall.


Matching last year's run times with significantly lower heart rates was good and hopefully shows I'm in similar run condition to 12 months ago (three weeks after the 2008 event I pb'd the London marathon in 2:49). PB'ing overall by more than two minutes, again at a significantly lower heart rate was also good although I was slightly disappointed not to find another 10 beats per minute for the second run (hopefully that's just fatigue from Lanza). I'm really really pleased though to have gone 1:10:04 for the bike and feel really confident that with nine weeks to go I'm in the best bike shape of my life. Having already pb'd runs and swims in 2009 things are looking good for May the 23rd.


Well done to my amazing wife for taking home our first spoils of 2009 with £40 in the pot for 5th lady overall (see today's picture) and perhaps more importantly making a serious dent in her Ballbuster bike pb. Well done also to Pauly P and all the Tri Talkers for giving it big ones this morning and bad luck to one of the pre-race favourites and all-round good lad Mark Stenning for puncturing about a minute before the gun went... despite having to fix it while we all legged it he still managed to beat my first run by nearly two minutes!!!

See you next weekend,


p.s. don't forget you can now find daily updates of my training by clicking here.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

The moment...

This week I seem to have gone on a bit so in case you don't make it to the end I'll mention a couple of things now...

Ever since starting this blog I've wanted to upload my training diary so that people who are interested can check out the gory details but having tried several different methods, all unsuccessful, the idea had been put firmly on the back burner. This week however I've been experimenting with Twitter and it seems to be working well so if you would like to see what I get up to check out my daily training updates here..., once on the site you'll see there are various ways to obtain the feed. I'm somewhat of a Twitter novice but it seems pretty easy to pick up drop me a line via the comments if you have any questions. If you happen to possess an iphone I would definitely recommend downloading the 'twitterfon' application (something I picked up from reading Gordo Byrn's great blog at as it gives you excellent mobile access to the service without having to surrender your mobile phone number. It also means that I don't need to be near a computer to 'tweet' so can update in pretty much real time :)

I'd also like to say what a truly amazing person Chrissie Wellington is... if you check out her gallery HERE you'll see that in picture 10 of 20 she's running round a track with a couple of girls, and there's a great story behind that photo. It was taken in January at Club La Santa when we were getting ready to go out on a long bike. She was doing an interval session round the track and Jessica and Charlotte (AKJ's daughter and niece respectively and CW's running companions in said photo) were watching in awe whilst cheering her on each time she passed. Without any prompting she invited the girls to join her for her cool down and they proudly ran alongside her for several laps of the track. The next day she came and found the girls and gave them each a key-ring which she'd had made specially for them with that same picture in!

Thirdly, I know we've got a little behind with the general blog 'housekeeping' re race results etc but it's on my todo list and everything should be back up to speed shortly...

Right, now for my weekly ramblings.... are you sitting comfortably?

Ten weeks from now I’ll be kicking back in Lanzarote… what happened the previous day will have been decided largely by my behavior over the 69 days between now and then. This last week it’s struck me just how close Ironman Lanzarote really is, this time next week the Ballbuster will be done, two weeks later the Circuit of the Dales and four weeks after that it’ll be taper time!

It’s been an amazing journey from the couch where I spent my overweight, binge drinking and junk food eating twenties (more of that in future blog entries no doubt). Over the last seven years I’ve run 11 marathons and around 15 half marathons, I’ve learnt to swim properly, bought my first road bike, earned three Ironman finishers medals and won my age group at the toughest half-Ironman in the world… I’ve also shed over three stone in lard and perhaps most impressively given up getting drunk (come June this year it’ll be five years since I’ve had any form of hangover).

For some reason though, and I’m not sure why, all those achievements have simply been steps to get me to where I am right now. In what I can only describe as a moment of clarity, I’ve suddenly become aware that it’s all about now, this very moment in my life journey. Although I’m without a doubt the most motivated that I’ve ever been, I’m also ready to ‘retire’.

Somewhere around late 2002 / early 2003 my life changed forever, I’m not sure quite what motivated me to ‘turn left instead of right’ but at that point I embarked on a journey that would transform not only my physical but my mental being. My earliest memory of this change is being entered in Leeds half marathon by my great friends from Oxford… working in a gym at the time and with nothing better to do I set about training like never before and in May of that year crossed the finish line in one hour and 26 minutes, a full 17 minutes faster than my previous pb. Perhaps one of my first true achievements in life and I wanted more… an addiction had been triggered. Since then that addiction has been fuelled by the desire to achieve what is perhaps the ultimate in life and something that very few people ever manage, to be the absolute best that I can be, even for just one moment. Think about it… how many times have you been able to stand back and admire what you’ve done in the knowledge that you absolutely could not have done it any better? Perhaps it’s a once in a lifetime thing… I’m 35 this year and certainly haven’t managed it yet, neither of my degrees received anything like 100% effort, I can’t honestly say I’ve ever maximised my potential in any of my jobs and looking at my athletic achievements… my 2.49 marathon although the result of a near perfect day was off the back of run training compromised by swimming and biking, winning my age group at UK70.3 came from a seriously below par swim and bike and a run where I held back to save my legs and my Ironman pb (9.56 in Switzerland 2007) was the result of a somewhat cautious approach with the aim of ‘banking’ a sub-10 as opposed to achieving my absolute best. It’s important to say at this point that I’m not being negative and I am proud of all those achievements but I know for a fact I could have done all of them better.

Let me explain that a little. True achievement cannot be found in finish times, bank balances, honours or awards for those measures are unrelated to your potential… true achievement exists purely in your mind and can only be secured when you, and only you, know for sure that you could not possibly have prepared for or executed whatever it is that you did any better. Last year Hels and I were fortunate enough to attend a talk by Paralympic gold medallist and University of Leeds alumni Giles Long. To cut an extremely motivational long story short he won gold, gold and bronze in consecutive games and the medal he was most proud of and the one which he had brought to show us was the bronze. Why? Because despite finishing two places lower on the podium it was the one time where he could honestly say that from the start of training to the end of the race he could not have given anything more… true achievement.

So how does this relate to me at the moment? To get from where I was seven years ago to the level of athletic performance where I am now has taken and is still taking the most phenomenal level of effort and although my drive and determination is stronger than ever I’m not sure I’ve got what it takes (or the desire) to carry that through to 2010. As my goal has always been to reach that pinnacle where I could relate to Giles Long’s third place finish and I’m yet to achieve that and also this may well be my final year… it truly is now or never… and that ‘now’ really absolutely is NOW!

Here I am ten weeks before the race, in the best shape of my life, with the most amazing support group anyone could wish for and with the time and knowledge to train harder and smarter than ever before. If Lanzarote doesn’t go well there’s no guarantee that I’ll recover in time to achieve my goal in Switzerland and in that case wouldn’t even get to the start line in Kona and perhaps my chance to be the best I could be at something will have slipped away forever. It’s not really about qualifying either, I could absolutely achieve my best in Lanza and not qualify for Hawaii… a result which I would consider a 100% success!

Of course, there may be other opportunities in my life to be the best I can be but the problem is that to do that requires almost complete and total dedication to a single cause and with Hels and I thinking about starting a family in the next year or so I can’t see me ever wanting to dedicate so much time and effort to a single cause ever again. It’s likely that this time next year all I’ll be thinking about will be being a great husband, friend and son to everyone who means so much to me and perhaps even a great father… non of which involve 25 hours a week of swim, bike or run training.

So here I am... as I type away on my laptop the countdown on our blog says 68 days and 9 hours until the flag drops so this really is it. I've worked so hard to put myself in the position where with less than ten weeks to go I have the opportunity to be, for just one moment, the best I can be...

See you soon,


On the edge of something exciting...

Life is so good at the moment that I’m a little scared to move in any direction for fear of bursting the ‘good’ bubble that I appear to be living in. And, no, I haven’t just won the lottery. Actually the fact that nothing ‘amazing’ has happened makes it even better because I just am happy. It’s a really great place to be because it’s not down to how well I’m training which is usually the main cause of any change in my mental state. Basically I feel like I’m content with where I am and by that I don’t mean in Leeds :)
So, where am I exactly? Well, I feel like I’m on the edge (as todays title suggests) of something exciting. Providing I can hold myself physically and mentally together for the next ten weeks then I’m going to go into Lanzarote Ironman actually looking forward to the race… not to the time I do or the position I finish, but actually to all of the things I’ve learnt about myself these last few years, and that's going to allow me to race without pressure and that's right up my street! I’m no longer in competition with myself (or Tom for that matter) and I’m no longer so serious about the minutiae of my training. Days off? Not a problem. Missed session? Not a problem. Good session? Great. Bad session? Oh well. Yes life still does more or less revolve around training at the moment but not the way it used to. It’s not the be all and end all of my life. I’m liking it :)

In the current economic climate we’re all surrounded by doom and gloom and it's a stressful time for many, I completely acknowledge that, but it’s also a time to be excited about because it’s forcing people to change what they were doing, moving them out of their comfort zones. Humans are such creatures of habit. The majority of us as a species don’t like change (I’m truly no different.) But I feel like I’m beginning to understand the need for change and how embracing it instead of feeling anxious and stressed by it is the way forward. My photography business is just as affected by the current climate as the next man but I’m excited because if anything I’m being more creative, I’m using my head and my creativity and doing things that I love and that I’m great at and producing some great images. I feel change in my photography on the horizon and I’m enjoying seeing what’s happening, it’s just as exciting as wondering what my next client will be or how I'll do in my next race. This weekend I worked for Leukaemia Research at the Adidas Silverstone Marathon. Leukaemia have a celebrity team and I do all of their photography. I spent all of today snapping away at photogenic tv actors and actresses and eating the complimentary food, marvellous. At one time I would have been a bit irritated that I was giving up a weekend of training for work (even though I always enjoy it). Not anymore. I’ve changed, I’m still changing and I’m much better for it. Bring on change, that’s what I say.

With only ten golden weeks of training left -that I know Tom is writing about- I have had to set myself some important goals. Firstly (and you heard it here first) I'm giving up ALL sweets, biscuits, crisps and chocolate (has to be done I'm afraid, all or nothing, it's my genetic make-up, I can't do in between) and I'm going to stretch every day, twice a day. Tomorrow (Monday) is the start of the last serious ten weeks of training and if I want to feel like an athlete on the start line of Lanzarote IM then I've got to live like one :) :) :) Bring on the Turton/Williams will-power and fingers crossed in ten weeks time I'll be leaner, lighter, fitter and more importantly ready for what race day will bring.

Oh and for those who are interested Week Six of pix is here.

H. x

Monday, 9 March 2009

A pic a day as promised...

So here you go... as promised, here is the link to the last two weeks worth of pictures.  It was hard having to consciously remember to take a picture for this little project of mine, but I did it :)

H. x 

Positive gains :) :) :)

Not having any access to the t’interweb for the last week has been somewhat liberating yet odd at the same time. I’ve missed not being able to blog properly last week. As usual the weekend before we left for Lanza was a flurry of activity making life pretty chaotic trying to entertain (our mate Tony was over from Ireland for a few days) getting our stuff washed (even though we were training right up until the very last minute) packing it and then taking the bikes apart. Then again all of you who know us won’t be surprised that as usual we went right to the wire shoving stuff into bags while AKJ waited patiently.

I felt a little anxious about this week of training in Lanza (if you don’t know why read THIS blog.) Firstly I had to remember to train for myself and not just to copy what Tom was doing and secondly I didn’t want to burn myself out both physically and mentally.

Full points for all of the above. Not only have I had a fantastic week of training, I’m coming home with a smile (a ridiculous sunglasses tan), many bike miles in my legs and I’m ready to have a short rest before looking forward to the next ten weeks that are left of serious training.

In January I biked 450 miles in ten days. This week I’ve done 487 in seven days and I’m not in any way shape or form broken . I’m more familiar with the island of Lanzarote, her hills, her bumpy terrain and her incredibly fickle and strong winds, in fact more familiar than any other course I’ve ever raced on. Knowledge is power as they say and that’s worked two fold on this trip. As you know I broke myself mentally and physically in half in January but that taught me an awful lot about my limits, my expectations and myself. It was one of the best things I could have done (although I wouldn’t have agreed at the time.) And so here I am on the flight home with sore legs, a great week of training under my belt and having ridden the course over 3and a half times over the last week a knowledge of those 112 miles that will no doubt help me pace the race mentally and physically perfectly on May 23rd.

Myself, Tom, AKJ, Ady, Ironman Sam and Pauly P made a great unit for the week. The best part of the week was definitely seeing AKJ complete his first 100 miler, a huge milestone on his road to IM Austria in July and I’m excited at the prospect of being there to see him cross that finish line. It’s great training with mates, especially ones who have legs the size of oak trees, thanks Ady for dragging me up some of those hills when my little legs were tired. Oh and for being on porridge duty every morning at 6.30am, top brekkie. I was a bit daunted by being the only girl on our trip as I wondered how much testosterone and ego would enter into the rides with little ole’ me being left behind but it really wasn’t like that at all and all of the rivalry was in good jest and good fun.

The sessions were generally split into two so that we could all ride socially together in the morning and then Tom and I, Ady and Sam could go out in the afternoon to do a little more intense sessions. It worked well as everyone got a good workout without anyone being held back. See Tom’s blog for the way the week panned out. The only day that differed for me was Wednesday when we rode the Northern loop in the morning together and the myself, Ady and Sam did a 2hr 20 min ride up to the top of Haria (which is the highest point on the course) and then Ady and I ran 40 mins off it.

Sam & I decided we would ride the whole course together on Friday. I’m pleased we did because firstly we managed to do it in 7hrs 5mins and that wasn’t with a great deal of effort for both of us, it was a fairly steady ride. And secondly it was the windiest day of the whole trip. Scarily and dangerously windy in fact, so I was glad that I was with someone for the whole way. Lanzarote is known for it’s strong harsh winds and every day is generally a windy one but on Friday it took windy to a whole other level. Thankfully the drivers on the island are very familiar with cyclists and are incredibly patient. Riding sideways in the middle of one of the busiest roads made for heart jumping moments. Taking refuge in the garage on the road which leads to El Golfo (about 62miles in) Sam & I did discuss how safe it was to carry on, not helped by an old man who warned us that it would be treacherous! We knew we didn’t have much of the busy road left to ride so we pushed on and were glad we did. If anything having such harsh conditions can only help if on the day they’re similar. As we cycled into the street of our bungalow, I got straight out to do an hrs run at about Ironman pace and felt good.

I was a little daunted by the prospect of doing the whole thing again the next day with AKJ and Pauly P. I really didn’t know how I was going to cope with it both mentally and physically but once back in the saddle my legs felt fine and we had a great day together. Impressed by a solid ride by both AKJ and Pauly.

So the week is done and I’m ready for a rest. This morning Tom, myself and Sam got up early and went out to ride the Northern loop again together. I can’t tell you how all three of our lives have changed since that first surfing trip to Lanza when I didn’t even know what Ironman was, couldn’t swim and had never owned a bike. Come May 23rd when we’re standing with our toes in the sea I’m going to feel excited, nervous and overwhelmed by the journey we’ve all had. A fitting way to finish the Ironman journey (my entry into IM CH will be decided after Lanza) but in my head Lanza is the end of a wonderful road of discovery.

Time to sign off before this turns into my memoirs but it’s great to be returning from a training camp full of positivity, hard training and the best friends a girl could have.

Knowledge is power.

P.s I’ve still been taking my one pic a day, but seeing as it’s now 2.30am and we’ve just walked through the door, I’ll have to post the new pix tomorrow.

H. x

Home time...

In a couple of hours time our Thomson Airways flight from Lanzarote to Manchester will touch down (I'm writing this at about 30,000 feet and 300mph) and with another 500 Canarian cycling miles paid into my training ‘bank’ things are starting to look rather good.

H, Andy KJ, Ady and I flew out last Sunday and were joined on Monday by our friends and training partners Pauly P and Sam. The six of us rented a self-catered villa in a quiet and secluded town called Caleta de Famara (point four on the Ironman bike course above) and having stocked up on enough food to fuel a small army set about swimming, biking and running across the length and breadth of this most barren yet beautiful of islands.

With my swimming and running ahead of schedule and the horrendous February weather somewhat limiting my bike volume, this week was about two wheeled training. Swimming would always take a back seat and as such I only managed the one session, a steady 40 minute open water effort around (roughly) one lap of the Ironman swim course in Puerto Del Carmen (PDC). Likewise, I decided to give my run legs a little rest and swapped the usual weekly dose of interval, tempo and long sessions for a steady daily hour, typically off the back of a good bike. So what about the cycling….

Monday (57 miles) – Two hours easy in the morning with AKJ, H and Ady followed by another two hours easy in the afternoon. Nothing strenuous in either session, just a chance to spin the legs and check everything had survived the flight.

Tuesday (100 miles) – In the morning all six of us rode the southern loop of the Ironman course at a nice easy pace (my heart rate averaged 90 for the 65 miles in about five hours). In the afternoon I did the first of my three key sessions of the week and with a fairly steady seven mile warm up from our base in Famara to Club La Santa, I put in six hard two-mile hill repeats up to the town of Soo, the last of which I kept my foot on the gas for the remaining five miles home before sticking a good 60 minute run on the end.

Wednesday (100 miles) – The morning saw us riding as a group once more and in just over four hours and 50 miles we’d taken in the whole of the northern loop of the Ironman course which included the infamous climbs up Haria and Mirador Del Rio. Wednesday afternoon saw my second key session of the week and also my second attempt of the northern loop that day. With Ady setting me the target of beating three hours ten for the super hilly (not to mention windy) 50 miles I was pushing from right from the ‘gun’. Feeling strong it was clear that my bike emphasis of the past couple of months was coming good and at 2:43 door-to-door I’d averaged 18.5 mph, sticking another steady 60 minute run on the back and the week was shaping up nicely.

Thursday (Zero Miles) – I had planned to ride every day but with plenty of good work done, my legs starting to feel the pace and THE key session of the week scheduled for Friday I took an easy day with just a steady run and swim.

Friday (100 miles) – From the moment we booked this trip I’d fancied a crack at a solo TT effort round the entire Ironman course. Setting off in cool and overcast conditions my target was to beat six hours and get as close to my race day target of 5.40 as possible. I should point out that I did miss the short loop around PDC (hence the 100 miles, not 112) but it does seem like that is probably only around seven or eight miles so I’m guessing the course is four or five miles short? (If anyone reading this has measured it I’d love to know?) I think that the key to riding Lanza fast is to never let your effort drop and keep as steady a power output as possible over the undulating and windy route. With an average heart rate of 135 but a max of only 148 I think I managed that and a ride time of 5.39 (plus ten minutes of stops, to by more water) was swiftly followed by eight very hilly and very very windy miles out and back to Soo, comfortably holding sub 7.10 miles. As far as confidence building goes it doesn’t get much better than that, ten more weeks of training and a well delivered taper should hopefully see me cover the extra few miles in the same time and then settle into the required 7.30 pace for a sub-3.20 run… if only life was that simple ;)

Saturday (100 miles) – With my personal goals for the week all but achieved today was about helping Paul and AKJ to achieve theirs. Paul’s taking on Lanza with us and AKJ will hit his first Ironman start line in Austria on July the 5th, for Paul it would be his first century since Austria last year and for Andy his first ever! Eight hours and five minutes (ride time) later and a strong day in the saddle saw all five of us nicely round the mdot course and back in time for H and I to slot in an easy 10k run before a well earned dinner in Tinajo :)

Sunday (50 miles) - The last day of the camp and a final chance to practice the fast and technical downhill sections from Haria and Mirador and also to reach my pre-trip target of 500 miles. Sam, H and I set off on the nicest morning of the week and despite tired legs from the previous days efforts all three of us felt good holding a nice steady pace whilst taking in the first proper sun of a somewhat overcast seven days.

So, that's about it... 507 miles, seven runs and a swim all in about 45 hours training! H and I both set new personal records for not only bike miles in a week and total training hours in a week but also calories consumed... I don't think I've ever eaten so much in my life as each day was a constant battle to not only replenish the energy used but top up for the next session. Thankfully we also got plenty of sleep so once we've got over this late night (having only landed in Manchester at midnight) everything should be good.

It's now 2.46am on Sunday night / Monday morning and with my eyes losing the battle against gravity it's time for bed.

Apologies for any spelling mistakes etc but I'm about as knackered as I've ever been.

See you soon,


Sunday, 1 March 2009

In transit...

In yet another first for this blog we're posting this week's entry from my iPhone!

H and I are off to Lanza for some much needed sun and even more vital bike miles :)

Laptops are packed though so hopefully we'll get the time to make a few much needed updates and write those posts we keep promising to do.

Watch this space ;)

T & H